Act Now, Think Later

There is value in envisioning and sketching out a plan. There are times and places for speculating, contemplating, and even losing track of time in aimless wonder. But what is the cost of thinking too much before we act?

It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.

–Millard Fuller, co-founder of Habitat for Humanity

I have given a lot of thought over the years to how I can add value to people’s careers and lives. I have devoted hours upon hours to the contemplation of what an authentic, values-based business might look like. I have wondered about (and internally debated) the merits of writing and blogging to educate, connect with, and promote my business to the kind of person who would most benefit from my help. I have subscribed to podcasts and newsletters, read books and articles, and studied the ways that other difference makers have impacted the lives of their clients and audience.

But when it comes to accomplishing a goal, creating something new or positively impacting another person’s life, I have found that thinking about my intended action not only fails as a proxy for the action, but reliably delays it.

It is when I have put aside my thoughts and taken the risk of doing something without any guarantee as to how it will turn out that my work and business have sprung to life. It is in these moments that I have struck the occasional chord in one of my readers; that I have connected with, coached and consulted for immensely talented professionals who otherwise might never have known about my business or the immeasurable benefits of partnering with a coach; that I have experienced the singular entrepreneurial wonder of being paid for work I love so much that I would do it for free.

But the thing I have found most profound is not the way in which the world seems to fall almost magically into my lap when I act first and leave the thinking for later. It is how much clearer and purposeful my thinking becomes when the tangible pursuit of the goal has already begun.

But don’t take my word for it. See what these geniuses have to say about adopting an action-oriented mindset.


A version of this post originally appeared on Brian’s blog, Against the Grain.

 

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